Mālama Honua Summit | Inspirational Speakers Series: Part 1

Legacy and Future of Voyaging Panel


Nainoa Thompson
President, Polynesian Voyaging Society

Nainoa Thompson is the president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a master in the traditional Polynesian art of non-instrument navigation. Through his voyaging, he has opened a global, multi-generational dialogue on the importance of sustaining ocean resources and maritime heritage. Thompson is the first person in 600 years to practice Polynesian wayfinding: long-distance open-ocean voyaging on a traditional double-hulled canoe without the aid of modern instruments. Nainoa has dedicated his life to exploring the ocean, advocating for a healthy planet, and ensuring that the ancient marine heritage and culture of Polynesia remain vibrant into the future.

Bruce Blankenfeld
Voyaging Director, Polynesian Voyaging Society

Bruce Blankenfeld became involved with the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) in 1977 by volunteering on Hōkūleʻa training sails and with construction and repair of the wa‘a kaulua in drydock. Since then, he has voyaged thousands of miles throughout Polynesia, Micronesia, Vancouver, Alaska, and Japan. Through extensive training and experience, while sailing more than 100,000 nautical miles, he became a master navigator – using traditional, non-instrument methods. He led Hōkūle‘a’s recent extensive renovation, and is currently the Voyaging Director for PVS’s Worldwide Voyage, as well as the Vice Chair of the PVS Board of Directors. Mr. Blankenfeld is a popular and inspiring lecturer on Polynesian navigating, voyaging and wayfinding.


Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi

Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi 
Pwo Navigator

In 1992 the waka hourua, Te Aurere, built by Dr. Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi OMNZ, MBE (also known as Hector Busby) sailed to Rarotonga for the South Pacific Arts Festival. Since then Te Aurere has reconnected Aotearoa with the other points of the Polynesian Triangle with voyages to Hawaiʻi (1995) and Rapa Nui (2011-12). First involved with waka in 1973 with the relaunching of the waka taua Ngatokimatawhaorua, the Voyage of Discovery of Hōkūleʻa in 1984-5 started a new chapter in Hekenukumai’s life. Hector has built over 30 waka and led the revival of waka building, sailing and traditional wayfinding in Aotearoa. This service to Māori has been recognized by the award of one of Aotearoa’s highest honors, the Order of Merit of New Zealand. In 2008 Mau Piailug presented him the award of Pwo, as a master navigator.

Neil J. Kahoʻokele Hannahs – Moderator
Founder & CEO, Hoʻokele Strategies LLC

In 2016, Neil J. Kahoʻokele Hannahs concluded four decades of service to Kamehameha Schools where he managed a portfolio of 358,000 acres of agriculture and conservation lands and founded the First Nations Futures Program and Hawaiʻi Investment Ready.  Hannahs subsequently launched Hoʻokele Strategies LLC, a consulting enterprise to engage inspiring wayfinders in building a thriving society. A graduate of Kamehameha Schools with BA and MA degrees from Stanford University, he serves on the State of Hawaiʻi Commission on Water Resources Management and boards of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, MAʻO Organic Farms, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Aloha Kuamoʻo ʻĀina and Awaiaulu.


Dieter Paulmann

Dieter Paulmann
Founder and Chairman, Okeanos Foundation for the Sea

Dieter Paulmann is the founder and chairman of the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea. Since 2007, Dieter has been working with navigators and voyaging societies across the Pacific to develop and build a fleet of traditionally designed double hulled sailing canoes outfitted with modern technologies including solar panels and coconut oil-fueled engines. Today, Dieter and Okeanos are actively taking steps to implement a pan-Pacific network of fossil fuel-free sailing canoes to support the region’s culturally-grounded sustainable development while providing much needed inter-island transportation of passengers, food, medicine, supplies and disaster relief.

Pomai Bertelmann
Alakaʻi Waʻa

Pomai was born and raised on the island of Hawai’i. Her family has been part of Hōkūle’a’s legacy since her inception. Her family and the community of Hawai’i are responsible for the building of the double-hulled voyaging canoe Makali’i as well as the Alingano Maisu, the voyaging canoe built to honor Papa Mau and his people. Pomai is a middle school instructor at Kanu o ka ʻĀina Charter School where students are reared through the cultural lense of project-based learning where they solve real world issues as 21st century stewards. The environment they live in is their classroom; their community, their advisors; their intuition, a guide on their course to solutions.


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